The Spicy Chicken Stew in Tempe That You Can Eat With Your Hands

The Doro Wat at Cafe Lalibela.
The Doro Wat at Cafe Lalibela. Tom Carlson
Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.

10: Doro Wat at Café Lalibela

Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant has been serving the residents and students of central Tempe for roughly 20 years. The family-owned restaurant is known for Ethiopian coffee, the traditional décor of the restaurant (complete with blush pink painted walls), and authentic dishes like the Doro Wat.

The Doro Wat (said like “what”) entrée is found under the Meat Dishes section of the menu. The dish happens to be a type of spicy, stew-like sauce with chicken. The meat is simmered in spicy berbere, or a mixture of red chili powder and spices, onion, various spices, and kibbeh – or spiced clarified butter. The aroma of the dark-colored stew is extra-killer if you’re extra hungry.

Doro Wat is traditionally paired with hard-boiled eggs, which you have to request. It also comes with a sheet of sponge-like injera (Ethiopian flatbread), which you use to scoop up your lunch. The entrée will run you $5.45 – though it’s suggested you combine it with two other dishes. The Doro Wat is also a weekday lunch special served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $8.99.

click to enlarge The traditional, Ethiopian decor of Cafe Lalibela. - TOM CARLSON
The traditional, Ethiopian decor of Cafe Lalibela.
Tom Carlson
The atmosphere of Café Lalibela makes the lunch rush extra worth it. The restaurant features customary Ethiopian décor scattered throughout the dining room, and the plates and tablecloths are often colorful and folksy.

For more on the dishes at Café Lalibela, visit the website or call 480-829-1939.

The Essentials so far:
50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.
47: Linguine Carbonara at Avanti.
46: The Food Court at Mercado de los Cielos.
45: Chicken Feta Salad at George’s Kitchen.
44: Spinach & Cheese Chimi Burro at Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant.
43: Dinner at Rustler's Rooste.
42: Gyro Omelet at Mel's Diner.
41: Zipps Wings at Zipps Sports Grill.
40: Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa.
39: Asian Nachos at Moto.
38: Olive Oil Tasting at Queen Creek Olive Oil Mill.
37: Baby Back Ribs at Don & Charlie's.
36: Limoncello at Cibo.
35: Chili Salt Chicken Wings at Asian Café Express.
34: Smoked Prime Rib at Texaz.
33: Steak Salad at Feeney's.
32: Tasting Menu at Kai Restaurant.
31: Toffee Banofi Sundae at Sweet Republic.
30: Big Jim at Welcome Diner.
29: Sonoran Hot Dog at El Caprichoso.
28: Sashimi at Nobuo at Teeter House.
27: Oysters at Casey Moore's Oyster House.
26: Spring rolls at Da Vang.
25: Bruschetta and wine at Postino.
24: Hot green chili fry bread at Fry Bread House.
23: The Big One at The Chuckbox.
22: Cahuamanta Stew at Cahuamanta El Yaqui.
21: Dim Sum at Great Wall Cuisine.
20: Fried chicken at The Horny Toad.
19: George & Dragon’s Famous Fish & Chips.
18: Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches at Pho 43rd Express.
17: Cerreta Candy Co. Factory Tour & Candy Sampling in Downtown Glendale.
16: Steak Dinner at The Stockyards.
15: Margarita + Guacamole del Barrio at Barrio Cafe.
14: BBQ Plate at Joe's Real BBQ.
13: Fried Chicken & Pork Chops from Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe.
12: Breakfast Burrito at Yucca Tap Room.
11: Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies at Super Chunk.
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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.